James NoMad, the flagship of the James Hotel brand, opened in the Flatiron District of NYC (29th and Madison) in August 2017. Originally built in 1904 as the Seville Hotel and then, in 1987, rebranded as the Carlton, the space was gut renovated in 2017, keeping its elegant Beaux Arts exterior, and re-imagined inside as the boutique James NoMad.
The James NoMad, however, is just one of countless chic boutique hotels in New York City to crop up lately. So what sets it apart? In a nutshell, a proprietary program called Four Bodies Wellness, designed to ease your city-clobbered physique and psyche.
#FourBodiesWellness at James NoMad
According to its Press Release: “The James Hotels has launched the Four Bodies Wellness – in-room programming curated exclusively for guests of the James Hotels. In partnership with consultant Ruby Warrington of The Numinous, the in-room programming has been designed to help balance all four bodies: Physical, Mental, Spiritual, and Emotional, in pursuit of total wellbeing.”
To this end, the James has enlisted exemplars in the areas of Fitness, Yoga, Meditation, and even the mystical arts of Astrological Chart and Tarot Card reading. Aerospace Co-Founder, Michael Olajide, Jr. – he of the rockin’ gunmetal eye patch – takes care of the Physical. Guru Jagat, founder of the RA MA Institute for Applied Yogic Science and Technology in Manhattan, leads the Spiritual. INSCAPE Meditation studio and app founder, Khajak Keledjian, oversees the Mental, and The Numinous founder, Ruby Warrington, was the mastermind behind #FourBodiesWellness, and offers “Readers on Room Service” with one on one in-room astrology chart and tarot readings for the Emotional piece. Each is prominent in his or her chosen field; with blazing, passionate auras to match.
Kundalini Yoga teacher, Guru Jagat, swathed in white, her long blond locks often encased in a high white turban, is the CEO of her own brand. As founder of RA MA TV, RA MA Records, and the RA MA Foundation with Institutes in LA, NY and Mallorca, Spain, Jagat explains what makes this type of Yoga so compelling. “There’s no barrier to entry,” Jagat says. “Kundalini Yoga involves a lot of breath work that anyone can do.” Which actually makes it perfect for in-room practice. Two several-minute sessions with Guru Jagat are programmed on the large flat screen TV’s in each James Hotel guest room – and they are easy to follow, and surprisingly effective in reducing stress in a very short time.
Khajak Keledjian, founder of the Meditation Studio and App, INSCAPE NYC, knows firsthand the toll that a high-pressure career can take on the mind and body. Thirty years ago, he left war-ravaged Lebanon to come to New York and, at age 19, with his brother, launched the women’s fashion brand, INTERMIX (which he recently sold to Gap, Inc. for $130 million). Keledjian discovered meditation during the 2008 recession, when the stressors of owning a business in a sinking economy was making him ill. “Meditation was the only thing that helped.” After selling Intermix, Keledjian realized that though the city was crammed with Fitness and Yoga studios, there were no brick and mortar places dedicated to Meditation. Seeing a void in the wellness market, he partnered with Coach founder, Lew Frankfort (who had already invested in Flywheel), to open INSCAPE. “People want to feel more fulfilled – they might be wealthy, but are less happy.” Though you can certainly access beautifully produced guided meditations on your smart phone through the user-friendly INSCAPE App (free for one month for guests, then $12.99/month or $58.99 per year) the Studio is just a 10 minute walk from the James NoMad. Put on a headset in a dark, comfortable room, listen to the soothing Australian voice of “Skye” and all else melts away. (You can do this via app, as well, even on a plane.) “Enter mindfully. Travel Gently.”
You can’t miss Michael “Silk” Olajide, Jr., with his intensely bad-ass gunmetal eye patch: one he calls the Eye of Horus – an Egyptian god that symbolizes positivity, health, and wealth. Olajide has certainly achieved all three, as a former championship boxer turned cardio workout guru to the stars. After an eye injury in 1991 ended his prizefighting career, Olajide managed to transform his misfortune into a profession training others at AEROSPACE NYC, a machine-free performance fitness center. But success didn’t come fast or easy. In the 90’s, Olajide taught shadow boxing and jump roping in an unused church, and in 2004, opened the first boutique boxing gym in NY’s Meatpacking District. After he trained Victoria Secret model, Adriana Lima, and was covered by Entertainment Tonight, “every single model wanted to box.” Since then, Olajide opened a studio in L.A. and has trained Hugh Jackman, Rachel Weis, Jake Gyllenhaal, Dustin Hoffman, Spike Lee and others, prepping them for the Big Screen. Olajide calls his cardio workouts “aggressive meditation,” as you must focus on movements and timing. “It’s the Western Hemisphere’s marshal art; you get fit without getting hit.” Join a complimentary pre-programmed workout session on a James Hotel guestroom TV (ask downstairs for resistance bands), or walk two blocks to Aerospace NYC.
Ruby Warrington, a fashion journalist who wrote for the Sunday Times in the UK in the Lifestyle and Fitness category, is privy to the cutting edge in spirituality, fashion, wellness and the mystical. In 2013, she launched The Numinous website, which features weekly horoscopes and personal stories, coined the term Four Bodies Wellness, and contacted all the top people in each segment to partner with James Hotels. From experience, Warrington knows that people don’t look up random Astrologists and Tarot readers online: they want personal recommendations. And so she handpicks those she recommends for her “Readers On Room Service.” According to my Astrological Chart reader, Bess Matassa, I’m a “wonderer, though I’m not lost at all.” A truth seeker with “wild bareback pony energy,” my challenges in 2018 surround “embracing my intensity,” “facing my fears,” and “channeling the beast within.” Roar.
First Impressions of James NoMad
You’ll recognize The James, on the corner of Madison and 29th, by its intricate and stunning façade of terra cotta, limestone, and sculptural wrought iron. Take a moment to look up and appreciate the workmanship of a lost era. Inside, all has changed. The curvy hardwood reception desk is as polished and sleek as the stern of a yacht, and is nicely juxtaposed by soft deep-mauve suede-like wall panels behind it.
The lobby area is long and narrow – with ample seating, including conversation nooks nestled within several high arched windows.
Couches are clustered around cocktail tables with contemporary Chess sets and other knickknacks. It’s warm and inviting, and seems to be full of friends, groups, and strangers meeting up at all times of day.
Rooms at James NoMad
Guest rooms are spacious and Designs Within Reach modern, with pleated hanging lamps and voluminous white duvets on beds punched up by large pillows in shades of turquoise, sunshine, and cantaloupe.
A conversation piece 20’s style stand-alone mini-bar features pin lights on its top glass shelf that illuminate full bottles of Grey Goose Vodka, Don Julio Tequila and more, while cabinets below hide a small fridge and dry goods for purchase.
But bathrooms here are the stars, with grey veined marble tiles on the floor and in a large glass shower. The centerpiece is the sink: a carved and smooth oval basin in the shape of an enormous worry stone. Just running my hands over its cool, curved surface was a soothing Zen exercise.
There are no chocolates on your pillow at turndown, but you will find a small “Sleep Well” tube of therapy balm. Applied to my pulse points, this stick of essential oils helped me relax and sleep.
Amenities at James NoMad
The opportunity to do Yoga, Meditation, and a cardio workout in the privacy of your own room is a nice perk here (with Astrological Chart or Tarot Card reader to come to your room for a fee).
Fill up a guest room water bottle at any tap: the NYC water is triple filtered here.
Fitness Center is small but has everything you need – and if this doesn’t suffice, Aerospace is 10 minutes away.
Coffee and fresh-baked muffins from 6-8 every morning in the lobby.
At 5pm every night, the low-lit lobby turns into a wine and cheese (complimentary) gathering space where young media types sip Chardonnay, nibble Smoked Gouda, peck on laptops, make quiet phone calls, have intimate conversations, and interview for new jobs. Though the opposite of rollicking, it’s a much-appreciated social aspect to what could otherwise be a solitary stay.
Just the Facts
Room rates at James NoMad start at $189 per night in January for 195-235 sq ft. room, up to $792 for 640 sq ft. 2-room suite in high season. Includes coffee/muffin in morning, wine hour in afternoon, use of fitness center, in-room Yoga, Workout, Meditation.
GO: Museum of Sex, two blocks away. Though not an all out porn fest, if you do take the kiddos, be prepared to answer lots of questions. There are sex toys, dildos, inflatable anatomically correct dolls, S&M devices, and tons of risqué candies, plus temporary art installations. Up now, the wild years of Studio 54 and other 70’s/80’s discos, where naughty things happened in full view. Open Mon-Thurs 10-9, Fri/Sat 10-11, Sun 11-9, $20.50.
GO: Morgan Library and Museum, six blocks away. Most tourists don’t know about this terrific museum and the exquisitely preserved library designed by Charles McKim of McKim, Meade and White, and commissioned by John Pierpont Morgan – founder of J.P. Morgan. The 2006 expansion by Renzo Piano – a magnificent glass box atrium – connects a lovely restaurant and other galleries to the incredible 4-room Library, restored in 2010 to its original 1906 splendor.
If you do nothing else here, make a beeline to the East Room, North Room, West Room and Rotunda of Morgan’s Library – to find yourself in a kind of Harry Potter meets Renaissance-European world of rare books, tapestries, mosaics, handwritten manuscripts, and historic letters, with a good dollop of wonder thrown in. Though these treasures rotate on view, you may see Robert Louis Stevenson’s notebook scribbled with the first draft of what he originally called a “Fine Bogey Tale,” and became The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
After his death in 1913, much of JP Morgan’s vast art collection was purchased Henry Clay Frick – and is part of the Frick Collection, another small but worthy NYC Museum. But plenty is left, and a visit to NYC would not be complete without a visit to the Morgan Library and Museum. Open Tuesday through Thursday: 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Friday: 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Sunday: 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. $20 adults, $13 kids.